To N or not to N

My teachers are starting to get excited for the new laptops they'll be receiving in the next fiscal year; this is hardly surprising since their current school-issued laptops are dragging under the weight of anti-malware software, various XP patches, and growing bodies of multimedia content. We've already begun the OS X vs.

My teachers are starting to get excited for the new laptops they'll be receiving in the next fiscal year; this is hardly surprising since their current school-issued laptops are dragging under the weight of anti-malware software, various XP patches, and growing bodies of multimedia content. We've already begun the OS X vs. Vista vs. Linux discussion and they are bringing a variety of thoughts, opinions, and preconceptions to the table. More on that later. For now, I'd like to get some feedback on wireless technologies.

Regardless of the particular vendor/OS combination we choose, the laptops we purchase will most likely have support for the Draft 802.11n wireless standard. While it remains in draft form at this point, it is appearing on even fairly mainstream laptops. This is hardly surprising as it brings significantly increased range and up to 5 times the speed of the current 802.11g wireless standard. However, problems remain with 802.11n, the most significant of which is the interference it can create with nearby non-802.11n networks.

While there are workarounds, they tend to remove some of the benefits of the 11n technology; for us, not implementing the workarounds would mean blowing away the state troopers' WiFi next door. This article from fellow ZDNet blogger George Ou describes the problem (it's a bit old in computer years, but I've confirmed that the problem still exists).

Here's where my dilemma comes in. In addition to the new laptops, it's time for us to upgrade our wireless infrastructure. As more and more students begin accessing the network and teacher utilization of bandwidth-intensive resources increase, we're certainly pushing on our existing wireless hotspots. So do we stick with the existing standard (it's cheap and reliable) or do we go for 802.11n-based routers that will have to be throttled to far less than their potential through "politeness algorithms"?

What have you done? Talk back below with your experiences.

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